The Downhill Only Club

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Looking Forwards: James Riddell’s Adventurous Life on and off the Snow

Title: Looking Forwards: James Riddell’s Adventurous Life on and off the Snow

Author & Publisher: Alison Riddell

ISBN: 978-1-80049-238-7


James (Jimmy) Riddell is a name that older members are more likely to recognise than the younger cohort, but this book will have a clear appeal to readers of all ages with an interest in Switzerland and skiing in general, and the Bernese Oberland in particular.

A tribute by Clive Mitchell, a longstanding member of the DHO, adorns the back cover, above one of Jimmy’s cartoon dogs.

“Whatever he touched it was with infectious enthusiasm,” Clive Mitchell notes. “He had that rare gift for making friends of all ages, the secret perhaps of his perennial youthfulness.”

William James Riddell was born on December 27 1909 in London, and was taken by his mother to Lucknow when only months old, to join his father who served in the British India Army. He almost died of dysentery but was saved by a lady doctor.

His mother rushed home and he did not see India again until 1949, when “at the age of 39, I flew leisurely across it on the way to Australia in a small single-engined aircraft with Nevil Shute, the author.”

He had his 10th birthday at Mürren, and died peacefully at home in the New Forest in February 2000.

In between, he had a packed life, which included serving as the President of three major clubs: the Alpine Ski Club, the Ski Club of Great Britain and Kandahar. And giving a warmly received speech at the DHO 50th anniversary celebrations in February 1975.

This book evokes the what some regard as the golden age of skiing, the days when a pound was not only a pound, but was also CHF25.

Anyone who knows the people, landscape and sporting celebrations of the Bernese Oberland will enjoy reading it and, perhaps, will enjoy even more giving it as a present.

Review by Brian Bollen

Sadly Alison Riddell died unexpectedly just a few weeks after we worked together on this review.

Her daughter, Jemma Moulton, advises us that the funeral is on Thursday August 19, at 2.30pm, at Ringwood Parish Church, Market Square, Ringwood, BH24 1AW, the church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, for anyone that doesn’t know.